Category Archives: SharePoint

JS Link – Add Ellipsis to a Column

Ran across a random request the other day to see the ellipsis menu added to a column other than the Title column. Turns out it’s a pretty simple change similar to how we change the column header text in a SharePoint view.

listItemMenu = “TRUE”

See the full code HERE.

Note: To remove the ellipsis from the Title column in the view, change the column from “Title (linked to item with edit menu)” to “Title” field in the view Columns.

References

Note and Disclaimer: JS Link currently works in SharePoint 2013, 2016, and SharePoint Online. JS Link does NOT work with the ‘Modern Experience’ interface – only Classic Mode. See ‘Choose Your Path Forward’ for more information.

JS Link – No More HTML in Calculated Field Change

Didn’t see that coming.

More than a few times I’ve had folks bring up solutions using calculated fields to do some of the same things we do with Client-side rendering (CSR) and JS Link in SharePoint. That was fine at the time. Just another way to get to the solution using creative out of the box capabilities – until now.

Microsoft implemented a change yesterday (June 13, 2017) that HTML or script elements in calculated fields would be turned off. Apparently this was an ‘undocumented use’ of the feature. The system is now escaping special characters and replacing the column with a blank in the list view.

Now What?

The short answers – in no particular order:

  1. Client-side rendering via JS Link property of web parts. This only works for Classic mode. If you are using Classic mode, this is likely the ‘best’ short term answer to broken interfaces until a longer-term solution is implemented
  2. Third party products
  3. SPFx Extensions or customization
  4. PowerApps

CSR and JS Link: There are multiple ways to implement JS Link, some via the browser (how I use JS Link) and via deployed coded solutions (Dev only). As mentioned in other responses JS Link does NOT work in the modern experience. It will only work in the Classic mode (as long as it is around). There have been NO dates announced for getting rid of Classic mode at this time. If you choose this direction it’s worth noting that if you’re comfortable writing script in the calculated field you’ll likely be comfortable writing the code needed to get CSR to work. I’ve got plenty of examples in the link included here.

Third party products. I’ve seen folks mention something called Skybow but I’ve never seen or used it. Only mentioning because it was mentioned by someone in the community I trust.

SPFx Extensions and customizations: This is the ‘approved’ development path for deployed solutions. If you are a developer and/or are creating solutions that are used across a broader scope this is likely the path you should go down.

PowerApps: This is likely the long-term replacement for solutions you used HTML or other scripting in your calculated field for (hand slap from English teacher). Embedded integration with SharePoint isn’t there yet (well, it kind of is…), but has been announced. You can start building the views/solutions you need, but they won’t be ‘really’ embedded in SharePoint yet – web parts and/or other tools are coming soon (they’ve been announced).

Note: Much of the attention to PowerApps has been in the area of forms, but views will be a part of the capabilities as well. They’ve already made improvements with introduction of controls like the Data Table control. Check out my posts on PowerApps for SharePoint users, specifically things like ‘List View’ Layouts.

Update

Migration Note: Do not forget to take this into consideration now as something to look at when migrating from an environment where special characters (HTML and scripting) work into an environment (O365, etc.) where they do not. You’ll need a plan to replace or update your field customizations.

Summary

Unfortunately this seems like a pretty sudden change. I certainly had no idea it was coming. For folks that were using this approach there’s a lot of scrambling going on right now dealing with blank columns that weren’t blank a few days ago. Depending on how complex the scripting was, some fixes might be as easy as stripping the HTML and script out and displaying a simple value. More complex solutions are going to take some effort to redo, either with a new approach, new code, or 3rd party software to get the business functionality back.

For simple HTML replacement, JS Link could be an easy switch. If you’ve never used it before check out the Hello World post and then the KPI post. Those will cover a lot and introduce you to the JS Link concept if you need to dig deeper for more complex solutions.

Good luck!

References

PowerApps – No Items to Show

In a previous JS Link / CSR post we covered how to handle what is displayed in a web part when there are no items to show. SharePoint’s default message is an ambiguous:
“There are no items to show in this view of the [listname] list”

Not an awesome user experience. Something a little more contextually relevant might be more helpful to users – either in a simple list view, or in a more complicated solution.

A PowerApps Gallery control isn’t any better – merely showing a blank record. The Data Table control, on the other hand, has a handy ‘NoDataText’ property that can be configured to display a message when the control is empty. 

So, what do we do when using Gallery controls – until a ‘NoDataText’ property is added and/or the Data Table control allows for more configuration options? As is the answer with many things in PowerApps: We use a formula.

Using an appropriate text field control within a Gallery control, we can replace the Text property with a formula like the following:

If(CountRows([_List Name_])=0,”[_Put your message here_]”, ThisItem.Title)

For a SharePoint list named: DefaultList you get the following:

If(CountRows(DefaultList)=0,”Nothing to see here”, ThisItem.Title)

The ‘CountRows’ function as you might guess returns the number of rows in the list.

The ‘If’ function tells the control to set the displayed value of the control to “Nothing to see here” if the condition (there are 0 rows) evaluates to ‘true’. If not, the value of the control is ThisItem.Title – the normal field value we would expect in the control. The text is only displayed when there are no items in the list. 

That’s it. Smile 

References

JS Link – Creating Custom Links

I’ve spoken about this topic so many times I keep forgetting that I haven’t put together a decent post on the subject even though I’ve had sample code posted for quite some time (see References below). Smile with tongue out In my opinion, after conditional formatting this is a sweet spot for JS Link use cases and functionally WAY more useful.

Disclaimer: For those of you using SharePoint 2013, this is still relevant content. If you are using SharePoint 2016 or O365 and have PowerApps available and/or are only using ‘modern’ pages and views there are other potential solutions for you.

Business-wise, what makes custom links useful is the ability for users to build solutions – ‘stitching’ together SharePoint functionality into productive business solutions – beyond what the out of box lists and libraries provide.

What makes custom links with JS Link in SharePoint so useful is the crossing of a few core bits of functionality in SharePoint – that we’ll cover in more detail in this article:

  • Most everything in SharePoint is available via a URL – so we can ‘decode’ the links SharePoint uses to build our own links to the data we want our users to get to
  • ‘Source’ data passed through the querystring allows us to control where the user is taken after a form is used (assuming the link destination was a form – it doesn’t have to be)
  • Creating a HTML link tag is super easy

User Experience Tweaking

You can use CSR to build ‘web-user-friendly’ vs. ‘SharePoint-user-friendly’ user interfaces. If all your users are familiar with SharePoint this isn’t a compelling reason. However, for environments where non-office workers (warehouse, production, etc.) are using SharePoint sites and solutions, making the interface intuitive – making it more ‘web-friendly’ – is a compelling reason to look at enhancements like this. For example:

Non-SharePoint users don’t know what the ellipses (…) are. They don’t know they need to click on the ‘…’ to get a menu for more details, etc.
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By adding a column with web links to forms, it makes the interface easier to navigate – the useful links are displayed prominently instead of inside of a menu that needs to be opened first. If you had custom forms this same approach could be used to get the user to those forms instead of the default forms. SharePoint only enables linking to the default forms in the interface.
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This also gives the solution owner more control over the interface by only displaying the controls they want made available to users.

How-To

If you use the SharePoint menu to navigate to the Edit page and look at the URL you will see something like this:

https://forgegroup.sharepoint.com/TeamSite/CSR/Lists/DemoList/EditForm.aspx?ID=1&Source=https%3A%2F%2Fforgegroup%2Esharepoint%2Ecom%2FTeamsite%2FCSR%2FSitePages%2FDemo%2520-%2520Link%2520to%2520Pages%2520and%2520Forms%2Easpx&ContentTypeId=0x01004578E7B0B3F1BE41A0EE6CF023F4518D

If we break the URL down we get the following:

  • https://forgegroup.sharepoint.com/TeamSite/CSR/Lists/DemoList/EditForm.aspx
    This is the URL for the form page
  • ?ID=1
    This is the parameter passed in that tells the form which item ID in the list to display
  • &Source=https%3A%2F%2Fforgegroup%2Esharepoint%2Ecom%2FTeamsite%2FCSR%2FSitePages%2FDemo%2520-%2520Link%2520to%2520Pages%2520and%2520Forms%2Easpx
    This tells SharePoint where to navigate when the form is submitted or cancelled – essentially where the user ends up next. This can be VERY useful when building your own solution.
  • &ContentTypeId=0x01004578E7B0B3F1BE41A0EE6CF023F4518D
    Finally, this is the content type for the item in the list. We aren’t using this information for our example.

What we’re doing with the CSR code is creating our own link that will be displayed in an overridden column. The complete sample code can be found in the CSR_CustomLinks.js file. We’ll just look at the key lines here:

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  • The link is going to ‘../Lists/DemoList/EditForm.aspx’ where ‘DemoList’ is the name of my list and ‘EditForm.aspx’ is the default edit form created for the list. If you’ve created a new form (with SharePoint Designer, etc.) and want to use it, this is where you’d put the name of the file. You could even leave the default ‘edit’ form as default but use this link to get to a separate edit form.
  • ‘ID’ is the name of the parameter we’re sending to the form. We’re getting the data from the list as ctx.CurrentItem.ID
  • Then comes our own ‘Source’ value to tell SharePoint where to navigate after the form has been used. This can be helpful if you want to direct users to a specific place other than where they came from.
  • Finally, ‘Edit’ is the text that will displayed as the link. You can use whatever verbiage makes sense to your users here OR replace the text with a graphic or icon.

In the sample code I’m actually building two links – ‘Edit’ and ‘Details’ in the same column override.

Get creative with this. The link doesn’t have to be to a form for the current list. It could be a view for another list with a reference back to the current list. For example you might have a document library where you’re keeping reference documents for a list and use a reference ID field in the document library to connect back to the current list. You could use this CSR approach to build the URL string to a view of the document library and filter it by the reference ID… Then a user could be looking at the current list and click on a simple link to all the related documents for that item.

Notes

  • Using graphics: Choose a location for any graphics you want to use as part of your solution. A good place might be the SiteAssets library. Then use code that looks something like this:
    image
    Replacing the ‘Edit’ text with an HTML image tag linking to your image file.
  • Combine this link with conditional formatting and potentially display different actions or icons depending on the content of your list item.
  • Filtering on a lookup column is another post using a similar custom link approach.
  • PowerApps: Moving forward solutions like described in this post will be accomplished using PowerApps. If you’re already using SharePoint Online, the capabilities are already available by building not only a list view from a SharePoint list, but being able to customize each column and build custom forms that you can link to within your PowerApp.

References

SharePoint, PowerApps, and List View Permissions

While discussing SharePoint list views during a recent SharePoint 101 session at our local SharePoint User group, the inevitable question about permissions on columns and views came up. Standard answer: ‘No’. Permissions in SharePoint are set at the list level, or the item level. Nothing is available at the column or view level. However

Here are the facts (today – this stuff changes so fast…):

  • Permissions on SharePoint lists are set at the list or item level. There are no SharePoint settings for permissions on a specific view.
  • PowerApps are surfaced in the views dropdown.
  • PowerApps permissions are set at the App level.

Are you there yet? Did you make the connection? Yep. You can have an item in the view dropdown with permissions different than the list itself. You can now have a ‘view’ with its own permissions. PowerApps are even integrated enough to *not* show up in the dropdown if you are a user that doesn’t have permissions to the App.

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Now, PowerApps are not as simple to create as a SharePoint view, but it is possible. Currently two facts hamper users a little bit here.

  1. The current SharePoint to PowerApps ‘wizard’ only creates a phone layout App. Not something that easily replicates a traditional SharePoint view.
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    Don’t get me wrong, this template (wizard) is awesome. it just doesn’t do what we’re talking about (replicate a list view) in this scenario.
  2. PowerApps are not yet embedded in the SharePoint interface – so the user experience is not as smooth as we’d like it to be.

I have to believe that both of these issues are on the roadmap for the PowerApps and SharePoint teams. We’ll just need to wait and see if and when they work their way up the list. Smile

Until these are addressed, you have a few things you can do manually with SharePoint and PowerApps. I’m walking through some of the options and steps with this blog series (References listed below – still have more posts to come…).

As with anything you’re working on in SharePoint or PowerApps, you need to pay attention to permissions levels. Extending SharePoint with PowerApps – while awesome – adds to the details you need to pay attention to. #governance. You might run into something like this:
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You can also use the ever popular ‘security by obscurity’ approach and remove the PowerApps listing from SharePoint:
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Although, you don’t actually have to do the ‘obscurity’ approach though since we have the capability of setting appropriate permissions at both the SharePoint and PowerApps levels.

You have options to switch the visibility, permissions, and integration experience in the SharePoint list menu:
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These are a few of the configuration options. Check them out to see if the integration between SharePoint and PowerApps can meet your particular needs. If it doesn’t now, by bet would be that it will eventually… soon even.

References

Top X Things Needed To Make PowerApps Awesome for SharePoint

While chatting about PowerApps recently, someone told me that I should always know my ‘top x’ things I want fixed, added, changed, etc. I can see where that might be handy to talk about with Microsoft, with other implementers, etc. It’s a quickly changing community and product and hey, they *are* listening. For PowerApps my current focus is on how it integrates with SharePoint. With that in mind, here’s my top 2. I’ll come up with more later. These are the ones I think are *really* important. 

  1. Embedded
  2. Embedded

PowerApps has great potential and already has a running start. But it has to nail the embedded story. If the integration of SharePoint and PowerApps is going to be *really* successful and gain the love of SharePoint users it needs to be easy and seamless. That means when a user selects a PowerApp in SharePoint it’s not going to jump to another application. It needs to run within the SharePoint interface.

So why do I list ‘embedded’ twice? Not because I really, really want it (I do) – but because there are (at least) two distinct embedded use cases:

Embedded Forms

EVERYONE has been talking about forms – which is well and good. They should be talking. They should (and have) been yelling. The gap is obvious and a solution is WAY overdue. With the scheduled end of InfoPath and the rudely unscheduled end of SharePoint Designer’s (SPD) visual designer, users have been left with one of the community’s longest and most obvious gaps. Thanks to third-party offerings (K2, Nintex, etc.) and community-efforts (Stratus Forms, etc.) certain needs have been met, but there are still gaps and it’s been far too long for a Microsoft-sponsored solution for business and power users.

Note: I don’t want this coming off as an anti-Microsoft rant. That is definitely not my intent. There were plenty of reasons for the delay. What they want to do and need to do is not trivial and the standards are extremely high. The integration we’re talking about also requires collaboration (see what I did there?) between two separate, complex, and rapidly changing products and teams. The PowerApps and SharePoint teams are also in different reporting structures within Microsoft. Fortunately both teams understand how important it is to get this particular integration done. The good thing is that there are many indications that this time around they’re going to make it – and maybe even exceed your expectations.

PowerApps needs to be able to replace existing SharePoint forms – the standard New, Edit, and Display forms – as well as add additional forms to a list or library. Form editing needs to be easy and intuitive in terms of which fields are displayed, how fields are laid out and formatted. Beyond that, there are plenty of other features we’d love to see, but the ones listed here are the core. Talk to anyone that’s used InfoPath or SPD and you’ll quickly get a list of wanted features.

We have every indication that Forms and the embedded experience will be addressed. Microsoft has gone as far as announcing that PowerApps IS the replacement for InfoPath. It is important to remember however that the features are coming iteratively, little by little, but continuously. So be patient.

Embedded Views

The embedded story that folks aren’t talking about as much is for Views. SharePoint views have historically been a powerful tool for business users. And while they are powerful out of the box, power users continue to find that they’d like to extend views beyond the out of box capabilities, and extend without involving developers when they are able.

Again, power users were once able to do some limited, yet still extremely useful, view customizations with SPD, but lost that power with the deprecation of the designer view. For the last few years, some customizations were again available using Client-Side Rendering (CSR) and the JS Link property of web parts. While extremely flexible, this approach was beyond most typical business users as it crept into a grey area between out of the box and ‘real’ customization and development. The approach never gained mainstream support or adoption. Now, as O365 continues to mature and lock down features that have the capability to jeopardize platform stability, CSR and JS Link are also going away from fringe power users and exclusively back into the hands of developers (good for the platform, unfortunate for those that were using it). 

Users need a way to get the benefit of SharePoint views, specifically choosing a list of fields, the order of the fields in a grid or spreadsheet format, the filter for the list of items, and how they are sorted. Once those core features are available they’re going to want the ability to customize that view using PowerApps’ ability to change field formats, apply conditional formatting, and other rules.

PowerApps today are surfaced in O365 SharePoint Online via the view dropdown.

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Selecting one of them initiates the loading of a PowerApp, but only give the user a button to open the PowerApp – opening the client application.

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Embedding the PowerApp would (hopefully) spin up a PowerApp right in the SharePoint window – just like any other view – rather than having to launch a client application – which is a fairly jarring experience for users.

I think there’s some interest in this use-case in the community, but it’s definitely less discussed than the forms example. I’m not sure what the interest level is, but I imagine anyone that was doing CSR and JS Link work would be interested in it. We’ll just have to wait and see.

#3 – A View Template

OK. So I did think of a third item on my list.

The current SharePoint template for PowerApps starts with a SharePoint list and creates a series of three forms in PowerApps. It would be great is there was a PowerApps template that took the selection a step further – into the current views for a list (or library) – and had a default layout that looks more like a traditional SharePoint view – a table/grid layout. This feature alone would allow SharePoint users to leverage their existing investment in views straight into extending them in the PowerApps interface. 

Summary

PowerApps is a powerful addition to the suite of tools Microsoft is making available for power users – many of which are currently using SharePoint. The PowerApps team wants to see user adoption grow and has a large group of potential users in the existing SharePoint user base – and SharePoint folks are an eager bunch. We’re already intrigued by the potential PowerApps brings to the table. If Microsoft is able to smoothly embed PowerApps into SharePoint (and Teams!) pages, users will be chomping at the bit to use PowerApps (and Flow) even faster than they already are.

PowerApps – ‘List View’ Layouts For SharePoint Data (part 2)

In the last post we created a PowerApp app from scratch and connected to SharePoint list data. This post will talk about different ways of laying out the data on a PowerApps form (screen). This is EASY stuff. Hopefully you’ll think so too after seeing it.

Coming from SharePoint into PowerApps, the default method is to use the ‘Create an app’ menu item (Microsoft loves to demo this) in the SharePoint modern view that automatically creates a 3-form phone app connected to the list you started from. Yes, this is indeed awesome. However, that’s not what we want in this case – so we’re talking about a different approach. In this article we’re creating a tablet app – one that might look more like a PowerApp embedded in SharePoint (crossing our fingers here) would look. More like a traditional SharePoint view.

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So, back to the tablet app approach…

By default when adding a Gallery control and selected the Vertical Text Gallery, we get a control that included 3 fields and ended up looking like this:

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Coming from the SharePoint world, this looks like the default view for the Announcements web part or the ‘Newsletter’ view layout. While this is very useful, sometimes I’d like to see the data like we do in SharePoint, in more of a grid/table format. You could even do a hybrid of the two. Either way, it requires moving fields around a bit. Thankfully, this is super easy.

A few notes about the gallery control. You can select the entire control, a single item, or each field on the first item. All customizations to items and fields is done in a single item and will be replicated for all items. To select the item, select the round edit icon in the upper left of the control. This will allow you to resize the item within the gallery. Editing the item (rather than the whole gallery control or an individual field control) allows you to resize the item within the gallery. In our case once we’ve resized field controls and aligned them how we want them we’ll reduce the size of the item to look more like a grid. To go back to selecting the grid, select any item other than the first one.

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The plan

I’m going for something similar to an All Items view minus the Description field. That’s 4-5 fields with room for future controls – probably something to view details of an individual item or kick of a Flow, or some other interesting option (future posts).

Resizing, reassigning, and moving field controls

We start with three fields, two of which are larger fonts used as a title and subtitle. There are plenty of ways to go about getting the right fields on the page. I’m going to do the following:

  • Delete the title and subtitle fields.
  • Reduce the size of the remaining ‘description’ field
  • Change the Wrap property from ‘true’ to ‘false’. This cleans up the field a bit if there is enough text to wrap and doesn’t show up along the bottom of the field.
  • Make any other formatting changes to the field control. (before we copy it…)
  • Copy and paste the fields to get the number of fields needed
  • Move the fields around – I’m putting them in what looks like a row of fields, aligned along the top of the ‘item’ space.
  • Select the item and reduce it’s vertical space to just enough to contain the row of field controls. This compresses the items into what looks a lot more like the grid format we’re used to with a SharePoint view.
  • Reassign the data assigned to each field to match how you want your view to display
    Remember: For some field types you may need to use the Advanced tab or the formula box
  • As needed, reformat or resize the fields to make the best use of space

Now, the screen looks a bit more like this:
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Probably a good idea to add some text controls across the top as field headers. Now we have:
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Easy! Hopefully you think so too…

Thoughts

There are a lot of directions you could go from here:

  • Add some navigation to the screen in the header or footer
  • Change the column headers to more interesting controls
  • Add some conditional formatting to the fields
  • What feature would you like to see added?

The stuff we’ve done is still pretty straight-forward, but if we eventually have the option of embedded PowerApps as views in SharePoint, it would be nice (especially for less-techy folks) to have a wizard or template that can take an existing view and convert it to a PowerApp. The more features we add to a page like this, the nicer it would be to have it automated. Smile

References

PowerApps – Build a Simple List View from SharePoint Data (part 1)

PowerApps has a number of integration points with SharePoint. For starters, you can use a template create an app from SharePoint list data. Right now, the template is limited to an app targeted at the phone form factor. Cool, but not what I want in this case.

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What if you want to do the same thing from scratch?
What if you’d like to create an app that connects to SharePoint list data for a tablet? (or maybe what could be an app eventually embedded into SharePoint)

As with many things in PowerApps, it’s not too difficult (once you know what you’re doing with a little clicking around Smile ).

Build it

Open PowerApps studio. On the ‘New’ page, select the blank app with a Tablet layout. PowerApps will create a single form sized for a tablet. Let’s get building.

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Start with the content. Select the ‘Content’ menu item and ‘Data Sources’.

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In the right side property pane, select ‘Add data source’.

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I already have a connection set up to SharePoint. So I can use that connection. If you don’t already have a connection you can set one up from here. I’m selecting the SharePoint connection.

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Enter the URL of the SharePoint site:
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PowerApps will get a list of lists on the site you entered. Select the list you want – I’m using ‘Requests’ – and click ‘Connect’. 

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Now, I’ve got a data source from my SharePoint list: Requests.

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So, now what? We add a Gallery to our screen. In the menu, select ‘Insert’ and then ‘Gallery’. For this example I’m selecting a Vertical Text gallery.

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The Gallery control is then dropped on the screen. 

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Resize and move the control around to fit your needs. I’m filling up the bottom part of the screen an leaving room at the top for a header/title thing later and maybe a few navigational controls. Control size and location are easily changed later as needed. 

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Now, what’s cool here is that the gallery control has a bunch of features baked into it already. It can be tied to a data source and has additional controls baked into the gallery. This particular example has 3 fields available as shown below. The data for the default fields are kind of nonsense – we’ll fix that in a few minutes. 

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We need to start by connecting the gallery to the data source. And it’s really easy. While the gallery as a whole is selected (see above), select ‘Advanced’ in the right pane.

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Selecting the Items field, start typing the name of your data source – in this case ‘Requests’. It should show up as an option in the dropdown.

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As soon as you select the data source, the screen preview updates with actual data from the data source. When you switch back to the ‘Options’ in the right pane, you’ll find that the controls have already tied to the data source. When you select the fields, they show all the fields in your list that PowerApps can recognize.

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So, you can quickly set the initial 3 fields to data in your list. If you don’t have enough sample data – go ahead and add some. Then refresh your data source and the screen preview should also update. Now you’re off and running.

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That was a very simple run through of connecting to SharePoint data and getting it on a screen. We skipped over a LOT of details that you can dig into but will get into those at another time.

Next up: Layouts, sorting, filtering, etc…

References

JS Link in SharePoint – Choose your Path Forward

Times they are a changin’…

Microsoft continues to roll out the new ‘modern’ interfaces within the SharePoint platform. This is happening initially with SharePoint Online, but is also coming to on-premises deployments with SharePoint 2016 and Feature Packs. While this is a good thing for end-users overall, it does come with a price when it comes to customization options and JS Link. The new interface – the new approach – locks down client-side customizations and unmanaged code in a bid to increase the stability of the platform.

I should clarify that the JS Link approach I’m talking about is the one I’ve been working with and sharing the past few years: Using the JS Link web part property in the web interface and uploading JavaScript files via the browser. This is different from the JS Link approach used by ‘real’ SharePoint developers accessing JS Link via managed and deployed solutions. 

Classic Mode

The JS Link approach we’ve been using is still available through ‘Classic Mode’. Microsoft has stated that Classic Mode isn’t going away any time soon.

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This means we can continue to develop solutions and customizations using JS Link and Client Side Rendering (CSR) for the foreseeable future.

Downsides of continuing to use JS Link in Classic Mode are: While the ‘modern’ and ‘classic’ interfaces work just fine together they aren’t visually consistent – so it’s a bit of a shift switching from one to the other during day-to-day usage. There also aren’t any migration paths from JS Link solutions to PowerApps or new custom solutions.

The future for power users, however, is really in PowerApps.

PowerApps

Get on the bandwagon now. PowerApps is the future and is a tool not just for SharePoint users – though it does bring new capabilities to SharePoint with forms and mobile accessibility. Between Power BI, Flow and PowerApps, the Business Application Platforms tools are the new area for power users to work in.

Currently, the integration between SharePoint and PowerApps is just scratching the surface, but there is more to come and in all likelihood those changes are going to be coming pretty quickly. Today you can create a PowerApp from SharePoint Online lists and the app will show up in the list view dropdown. Selecting a PowerApp today launches the PowerApps interface. While it’s not live yet, Microsoft has already demoed and shown functionality (in screenshots) of PowerApps embedded right IN a SharePoint page. Once this is possible, the user experience will be dramatically better and solutions (apps) built in PowerApps will start to replace what we previously built with separate SharePoint pages, views, and forms.

With the tools available today, PowerApps can create an app from a SharePoint list – either in O365 or on-premises if using a Gateway – and will create a form-based solution. What I hope to see is an additional template/wizard type of project that looks more like a traditional SharePoint view –hopefully even based on an existing view in more of a grid-focused solution rather than forms on a mobile-device-sized screen. We’ll see what we get. 

SharePoint Framework (SPFx)

When it comes to real customizations, the grey-area we’ve been operating in with JS Link is going away. *Real* customizations are intended to go through developers using the new SharePoint Framework (SPFx). This is managed and deployed code. Where with the current JS Link approach we could have a single JavaScript file, you now need a new stack of open source tools, projects with hundreds of files totaling over 100MB, customization of just the right files, and then deliver the finished package to an IT Pro to deploy in your environment. While this is better for the stability of the platform (again, which is good…), it is now significantly out of the reach of power users.

There’s a lot of information out there about the SharePoint Framework, but it is also new. So, we’ll be seeing changes and additions to it as it gets closer to mainstream. Bottom line is if you’re a developer in the SharePoint space, you’ll want to add SPFx to your list of things to ramp up on sooner rather than later. 

Future ‘Modern’ Interface Updates (?)

Disclaimer: This is *not* real. These concepts are a figment of my imagination and wishful thinking. There has been no word from Microsoft on any new features here.

Some of the things we’ve been doing with JS Link and CSR are relatively simple things, like column/field formatting and conditional formatting. It would be really cool if some of these ‘simple’ additions could be added to the web interface so we don’t even need to do customizations or PowerApps solutions.

What I’m thinking of is updates to how the SharePoint View is defined within the web interface. Today we have the list of columns/fields available in the list. We select the fields we want displayed in the list and set the order that the fields are displayed in.

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A nice addition here would be to add formatting options for each column. Simplest would be simple HTML/text formatting. Next level of complexity would be conditional formatting. Next level up from that would be more along the lines of a calculated field, but combining HTML and field data like item ID. The first two at least seem reasonable to request. Smile Conditional formatting alone would likely meet the majority of requests by power users.

You certainly wouldn’t be able to do *all* the things we were doing with JS Link field and item overrides, but there are a few things that seem within reach if the SharePoint Team had them high enough on the priority list. 

Conclusion

So, choose your path. And yes, it (still) depends. Winking smile 

If you’re in an on-premises 2013 environment, you can continue using and building JS Link solutions. However, you’ll need to rebuild those solutions when you move to SharePoint 2016 or SharePoint Online. I haven’t tested migration from 2013 to 2016, but I suspect JS Link customizations would come forward as ‘Classic mode’ customizations.

If you’re in an on-premises 2016 environment, you can continue using JS Link solutions, but I would start looking at PowerApps here as well. Even with PowerApps living in the cloud, you have the ability to reach on-premises environments using Gateways. The integration likely won’t be quite as seamless as it will be in SharePoint Online, but Feature Packs may continue to improve this.

If you’re using SharePoint Online (O365), send your power users down the PowerApps path and your developers down the SharePoint Framework path. In the meantime, continue using JS Link and the pages in Classic Mode until you’re ready for the new stuff.

Previous Posts and References

JSLink – Filter on a Lookup Column with CSR

Lookup columns are both useful and a little odd in how they’re implemented in SharePoint list views. I wrote a bit about this in a previous post and showed one example on how to deal with Lookup column content. This post shows an alternative – and possibly more useful approach.

We’ll change the default link in the lookup field to a link that filters the current list by the lookup field value.  Yes, users can also use the filter built into the column header – this is just another way to implement it. I also think this is a bit more intuitive for users.

At the end of the day, this is just another example of custom link ‘building’ with CSR.
Sample File: CSR_LookupSelfFilter.js

Key lines:
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With ‘Theme’ being the internal name of the Lookup field that we’re filtering on. Fairly straightforward.

The full list:
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After clicking ‘Technics’:
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Now we also need to add a ‘reset’ link to the web part so that users can get back to the default view. Otherwise, they could get stuck in a dead end after selecting a filter value. There are all kinds of ways to implement this, for simplicity’s sake we just updated the title text and link. 
Before:

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After:
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Obviously you don’t *actually* have to change the text of the web part header – just the URL. Smile But again, it seems like better UX.

Hope this is useful.

References:
JS Link and CSR Page